Smother crop

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Alfalfa is used as a smother crop.

A smother crop is a thick, rapidly growing crop that is used to suppress or stop the growth of weeds. Smother crops have better root systems that help them compete with weeds for water, and as a result the root systems of weeds get weak. Meanwhile, the dense top growth of the smother crop suppresses the top growth of weeds. Effectively, smother crops successfully compete with weeds for vital resources (growth space, water and light) and inhibit their germination and growth.[1] Once the smother crop has served its purpose, it is ploughed under along with the weakened weeds, thus providing green fertilizer.[2] A good smother crop must compete strongly with weeds but minimally with the crop. Smother crops reduce dependence on chemical weed control.[3] Some secondary benefits of such crops are helping nitrogen fixation in soil (if legumes are used) and reducing soil erosion.

Alfalfa, rye, buckwheat, sorghum, Sudan grass, foxtail millet, sweetclover, clover and silage corn are some examples of smother crops.[2][4]


  1. ^ Dinesh Kumar (Aug 20, 2008), Definitional Glossary of Agricultural Terms, Volume 1, I. K. International Pvt Ltd, p. 252
  2. ^ a b Tony Winch (Sep 27, 2007), Growing Food: A Guide to Food Production, Springer Science & Business Media, p. 54
  3. ^ Ernest Small (2011), Alfalfa and Relatives: Evolution and Classification of Medicago, NRC Research Press, p. 13
  4. ^ M. D. Shenk (1994), "Cultural practices for weed management", Weed Management for Developing Countries, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, p. 166

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